A SCOTTISH social enterprise has secured funding to help minority ethnic women in Scotland get back to work after career breaks.

AAI EmployAbility’s Scottish Government-funded programme aims to improve employment prospects, update skills, increase confidence, while offering access to both employers and paid work placements.

From November this year and March 2022, Back To Work participants can use employability coaches and employers through interactive workshops, one-to-one coaching and tailored training resources.

The business is in its fifth year of working with this underrepresented demographic who experience multiple barriers to employment.

Around 60 ethnic minority women will be supported in the programme. Organisations participating are from the public, private and social enterprise sectors, ranging from large corporations to SMEs and startups.

Joy Lewis, CEO of AAI EmployAbility, said: “Our team is consistently blown away by the level of talent that comes through from this underrepresented group. Last year we supported 30 women to realise their potential, regain their confidence and break the stigma around taking career breaks. We’ve seen the impact this work can make.”

Yvette McLaren participated in AAI EmployAbility’s previous Back to Work programme and secured a six-week placement with Edinburgh-headquartered cashflow forecasting startup Float. She said: “The whole experience was incredible because it built my confidence and it felt like I wasn’t in things alone.

“Before the programme and placement, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go back to work in HR, but the experience reminded me how much I loved working with people.”

While industry research shows that more diverse work forces deliver significantly greater performance, the employment rate in Scotland for minority ethnic women is 20% lower than for white women, while minority ethnic women are also paid correspondingly less than their white counterparts.

Enoch Adeyemi, CEO and co-founder of Black Professionals Scotland, said: “Projects like this from AAI, and the backing from the Scottish Government, offer hope and crucially, access points to employment desperately needed for people from underrepresented backgrounds so they can achieve their potential in the workforce.”